Uniquely close and historic BMW partner delivers its latest everyday supercar

At a time when the car industry is forced to contort and adapt on what often seems like a weekly basis, Alpina feels a more reassuring presence than ever.

After all, you’ll soon have the option of buying an SUV from Ferrari, there are already plenty of purely electric Porsches on the road and AMG will drop the cylinder count from eight not to six but four for its next super-saloon.

You’ll find subtle aero addenda dotted about the car, not least on the front splitter and upper windscreen edge. Even the windscreen wipers are modified to cope with up to 190mph.

Yet Alpina’s latest B3, tested here in Touring form, wants only to reprise the qualities for which the marque is known. Those being six amply blown cylinders, refined road manners to match a sumptuous interior, and an understated exterior underwritten by monumental performance.

The extent of that performance is something we’re all too keen to assess, not least because this is the first time that Alpina has taken a bona fide BMW M engine for its conversion of an regular BMW model. Alpina also has quiet hopes that the B3 will, for the first time in the company’s 55-year history, help bring total volumes for the brand to comfortably more than 2000 cars per year – useful at a time when development costs are rising fast.

It asks almost £70,000 for this Touring model, so any newcomers to the brand will expect a machine palpably more special than the G20-generation the BMW M340i Touring on which the car is based and something with even broader everyday appeal. It’s no simple task and the B3 Touring must also fend off similarly priced and excellent rivals in the Audi RS4 Avant and Mercedes-AMG C63 Estate.

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However, arguably this car’s most fierce competitor will come from the firm with which Alpina enjoys a unique relationship, to the extent that assembly lines are shared, as well as model blueprints, often years in advance of any public or media awareness. In 2022, BMW will offer its first ever M3 Touring.

Far from hurting sales, the belief of Alpina CEO Andreas Bovensiepen – son of founder Burkhard – is that the B3 Touring’s corporate cousin may in fact boost awareness for Alpina’s effort, particularly in the two years before the M car arrives. What we’ll discover now is whether you should even bother waiting for the canine-friendly M3 or whether you should head straight to Buchloe regardless.

The Alpina B3 line-up at a glance

Alpina’s line-up for its conversions of BMW 3 Series consists of the B3 tested here and the diesel-powered D3 S (which is somewhat confusingly named, because there will be no basic D3).

Breaking with tradition, both cars are now available with four-wheel drive only, but the decision to offer just a single transmission option – ZF’s eight-speed torque-converter – is unchanged from the previous generation of cars. In due course, we would expect a B3 S to appear with more power and torque, some subtle design changes, chassis tweaks and perhaps a more special exhaust system.

Alpina also tends to round off its B3 generations with something fruitier. In the past, there has even been a GT3-badged derivative designed for track driving.

Price £67,950 Power 456bhp Torque 516lb ft 0-60mph 3.8sec 30-70mph in fourth 5.3sec Fuel economy 28.2mpg CO2 emissions 228g/km 70-0mph 43.8m